Posted 19 December 2011 - 12:33 PM
Business Presence in an Online World
A website is a necessary piece of today’s business puzzle. Many start-up business owners do not start with that understanding. However an online presence in today’s world is more than a convenience. It is a necessity to navigating the business world of today. A properly created website can encourage the business traffic you need to maintain your business.
In the past, an ad in the yellow pages and a beautiful display window were enough to gain the attention of the average consumer. The way people shop has changed in the last 20 years. People don’t generally window shop as they used to. Phone books are no longer the primary way a potential customer finds a new business, or fulfills a need for a service or product. Even with word of mouth advertising, often a potential new customer will check out a business online before visiting it for the first time.
A website provides many things, just as important to a new business that is just starting up as they are to a business that is established and looking to grow. Your website can help promote visibility in search engines, to make sure that potential customers aren’t missing you. A website represents and promotes your business online. It can show what you stand for, providing images of what you have to offer to customers, as well as what you actually sell or manufacture. In fact I would not hesitate to say that a business without a website is a business that is practically invisible in today’s world.
Having a website will help any business maintain most, if not all, of the goals and objectives that have probably already been lined up for that business. For example, a sales goal or new customer visitation goal is much easier to reach when you have a site to enable you to reach out to those next customers. It can also help you maintain the customers you already have, by allowing them to sign up for newsletters, online deals, or other opt-in offers that you can provide as easily as a click of a button, with the use of a computer. These tools can all be key components to maintaining a business relationship with clients, and to encourage customer revisits.
A properly run and maintained website can provide many opportunities for your business that might otherwise be difficult to arrange. For example, if you are in need of creating space in your storage or warehouse, a quick sale can help make room for a few new products, and a quick look through your customer database should bring up a list of the names of your customers that would most likely be interested in purchasing one of your sale items. In this case, a thorough database of your best customers is an obvious time saver. The same process can be used to announce your new product in the very next week.
Having a website means being visible to people searching for your business. Without a website, an online search of your business name should bring up your telephone number, but it won’t contain any of the today’s customers have learned to expect to see, and a customer will often lose interest in the company quickly when they can search another business name and find their business hours, what they sell, often even a quick history of the business itself.
A website often also means reaching out to customers sometimes before they know they need you. Having a website means showing potential customers what you have available to offer to them in terms of your offered services and products. If a potential customer hears of a product or item and does a quick search of the internet to find out more, having your site come up on their search could gain you a customer that may otherwise have never known about you or your store. This may seem a very small chance when you consider one search in thousands, often against many thousands of other stores and sites. However, a properly built website can help you increase the chance of this happening in your business radius.
Many businesses today are using their websites to do more than just reach out to customers and create new revenue for themselves. Current business people often now also use their websites to do good deeds, in their local communities or for a charity they support and believe in. It is a current accepted practice to create or offer certain items specifically to highlight a community need or value, and to donate any profits from that item specifically to the charity that supports or assists with that issue. This is a way that many business owners are feeling they can contribute to the community more than they alone would be able to contribute personally, and gives your customers a chance to feel they are helping out as well.
The first step is to find a reputable website designer and pay for a basic site. There are many learned computer people out there that offer their services in this manner. Make sure before you sign any contract that the person knows what you want and can provide it. Ask for references, and an example of their work. If they are just starting out and you are willing to offer them the chance to get started, make sure that they will be available if you run into any issues, or that you know the name and number of a back-up professional that you can contact if you need to. It may also do you a lot of good to learn some of the basics of coding a website, so that you can spot issues yourself, and even make small corrections from time to time. Just make sure to keep track of corrections you make and run them by your coder as soon as possible afterwards so that he or she can verify your edit. Remember, there is nothing more potentially dangerous than a little bit of knowledge.